South Central’s 84-59 win over Wynford in a Div. IV sectional championship Friday night was nothing short of a team effort.
The Trojans, leading by five points at halftime, quickly turned things on in the second half to pull away from the Royals and claim their first sectional crown since 2012.
South Central’s ball distribution was key to the success. The Trojans totaled 17 assists, with freshman Simon Blair leading the way with seven.
“I thought we shared the basketball extremely well tonight and as a result of that we got a lot of open looks,” South Central coach Brett Seidel said.
The Trojans owned a 12-6 lead early in the first quarter, but Wynford finished the period on a 12-4 run to take a 19-16 advantage into the second quarter.
The two teams kept up with each other for most of the second quarter, but South Central clawed its way back and took a two-point advantage in the closing seconds of the half. Then, just before the buzzer, Alex Holland came off the bench and drained a three-pointer, putting the Trojans up by five and giving them the momentum heading into the locker room.
“We knew they were a good transition offense team,” Seidel said. “That hurt us in the first half. We didn’t get back on defense real well. I thought we gave up a lot of second shots as a result of that, because they were taking quick shots and we weren’t connecting to box out. We talked about that at halftime, just getting back in transition. I thought that was the difference.”
The Trojans really opened up the game in the third quarter by going on a 14-0 run and take a 60-39 advantage. In that stint, senior Josh Bonet scored eight points — six of which came from beyond the arc.
Blair scored a game-high 23 points, one of five South Central players to finish in double-figures. Aaron Lamoreaux scored 16, Ben Lamoreaux 15, Bonet 14 and Michael Ponchel added 10.
The Trojans advance to the district semifinals, where they will take on the district’s No. 1-seed in Mansfield St. Peter’s. That game will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Willard High School.
“I’ve said it all along, (Blair) makes us go,” Seidel said. “He’s dynamic with the basketball in his hands. He’s very explosive. We’re going to see some tough defenders on Tuesday night; I know that. He’s not scared of any situation or anyone he plays against. He was amazing tonight.
“I think a lot of that has to do with us sharing the ball. As much as we shared the basketball tonight and got good looks, that’s why it went in for us.”
For only being a freshman in his second postseason game, Blair didn’t seem to have any trouble against Wynford.
“It was just a team effort really,” Blair said. “We played really well, we talked well and we moved the ball well. It just happened to be in my hands tonight to make the shots. I’m glad I could contribute. My shots weren’t really going down last game and I didn’t have as much intensity last game, so I had to come out with intensity tonight.”
Blair expressed that being able to lead his team to a sectional championship is quite the experience.
“It’s wonderful. It’s awesome. I loved it,” he said. “There were people here to watch, it’s not something you get to do all the time.”
Despite not scoring a single point, senior Jason Hale was still able to make the stat book with five rebounds and three assists.
“Jason Hale doesn’t score for us (tonight), but he does so many other things,” Seidel said. “He was unbelievable defensively. A couple times, he switched out on their best player, (Jack) Reed, and took a charge once, stopped him once and rebounds the ball. He doesn’t even score and contributed in large amounts. We got contributions from everybody tonight. Alex Holland hits the three for us at the end of the (first) half, which was really a big momentum thing for us. Everybody contributed.”
Seidel knows his squad is facing a tough challenge Tuesday.
“Obviously, we know who our opponent is. St. Pete’s is one of the best teams in the state. Obviously, it’s going to take a perfect effort from us. We understand that. We understand the opportunity that’s before us and we’re just happy to have the opportunity,” Seidel said.
Hoffman 2-1-5; Reed 4-9-18; Creel 2-0-4; Heinlen 3-0-8; Crall 5-2-15; Hensel 2-0-5; Rausch 2-0-4. Totals 20-12-59.
S. Central 84
Bonet 6-0-14; Blair 9-2-23; B. Lamoreaux 6-1-15; A. Lamoreaux 6-4-16; Ponchel 4-0-10. Totals 32-10-84.
Wynford 19 15 9 16 — 59
S. Central 16 23 23 22 — 84